27 April 2010
We Have Band: WHB
Well the answer is: yes! Yes they can. There might be a couple of small hiccups along the way but WHB is a real grower of an indie-dance record. Oh, and when I say indie-dance don’t be put off. It’s a lot better than that actually sounds.
Just take their most well-known song, “Divisive”. It’s a catchy, fast paced affair that is part Human League, part Talking Heads. Hmm, that’s not a bad way to describe the band as a whole actually. The way that the three vocalists (yes, they all sing) gel together on “Divisive” is brilliant, no-one ever trying to overshadow anyone else, giving the sense that they’re really comfortable working together.
Another standout track is “Centrefolds and Empty Screens”, perhaps the record’s loudest and most complicated moment. While most of WHB is filled with songs that try to focus on a smaller aspect of the band’s talents (some songs are more keyboard-led, while others rely heavily on guitar), “Centrefolds” allows each of the three members to come together in a glorious wall-of-sound moment, from its first creepy bars to the last fading synths. On the first spin, you might be hard-pushed to find a better track.
Hard-pushed because in some ways We Have Band want to challenge you a little more: they’re fast to move tone through each song on the album and this could make it hard for some listeners to really see the joys of the record on a first listen. Even I had to spin it about five times before really appreciating the way that they’ve mixed together the slightly downbeat “Buffet” with the instantly danceable “Divisive” or placing “You Came Out”, with its haunting whistling and invasive bassline, in-between “Centrefolds” and “WHB”, two songs more similar in approach. Mix this with the fact that there’s a distinct rustiness in their ability to play instruments and WHB could have been a strangely detached and uninspiring album. But weirdly enough, this isn’t the case at all: once you’ve mapped out exactly where WHB is going then it’s easy to appreciate what they’ve attempted.
WHB isn’t the most polished of records though; on some tracks there’s a small sense of distortion that creeps in slightly (a bit of fuzz on “Centrefolds and Empty Screens”, a hazy sheen on opener “Piano”….) but this doesn’t take anything away from the songs themselves. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t a deliberate attempt on their part to make WHB seem more industrial and gritty, like they’d recorded it in a shed rather than a flashy studio.
Still, despite the sometimes semi-invasive distortion and the fact that lyrically the band are somewhere between naive and simplistic (it’s probably best to ignore this: it’s not like it really affects your enjoyment of this kind of album) We Have Band have managed to piece together a highly enjoyable, likeable debut album. Roll on new material.